“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Gordini
I came across this quote today and was caught up in a whirlwind of memories of anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and anti-American sentiment. A nostalgia of hatred for my country was relived in one sentence. I used to hate my country.
It all started in college. I had been abroad once before, but it was more of a spectator sport rather than the real deal. In college, I had a professor who opened my eyes to other cultures. I explored Latin America and ventured my way to Spain. There I stumbled my way into various European cultures and formulated my general despise for the States.
What I hated was ignorance. I saw the United States – or even my old self – as an ignorant body void of the cultures of the world. The US was a bully who didn’t care for other ways of life and explicitly showed this through its political agendas. The US in fact destroyed cultures through globalization and intense acculturation. I had all sorts of reasons to dislike my home land.
I carried this sentiment for a while. It was not until I learned to accept who I was that I began to see the beauty of my home. Yes, maybe all of these negative qualities existed and the US really was the global antagonist. Maybe all the negative claims I made were true. What started my journey to finding the positive was accepting the negative. It was from here that I could really enjoy the wonderful culture my country had to offer.
Freedom is so often thrown around meaninglessly, but I have seen places where freedom is taken for granted. When I speak of freedom, I do not mean freedoms promised by the government but rather the freedom of thought. This type of freedom is established in the confidence of a population’s right to creativity and a voice. Although this voice may often times be suppressed through jargon and politics, it is nevertheless there. Many places in this world lack a strong voice. America does not.
I also fell in love with opportunity for personal growth. I have come to enjoy so many enlightening ways of life in the states. Of course, one could choose a diet of hamburgers while living life on the sofa, but one can also choose any spiritual practice under the sun, a vegan diet, and a life of accomplishment. The US is a place of choice and even though there exists a universe of negative options, there still exists a choice.
What I think Gordini was alluding to was that the traveler who hates his country in fact hates himself. The transformation into a higher level of consciousness begins with acceptance. In this case, I had to accept all the parts of both myself and my country to find out what it was that I loved about them.